The closest thing I can compare this feeling to, is the end of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy re-awakens in her bed in the black and white world of Kansas. She opens her eyes and sees the people she remembers from Oz, and says “…it wasn’t a dream. It was a place. And you and you and you…and you were there!” Los Angeles is all green lushness, palm trees and rolling hills. Chicago, at present, is snowy sidewalks and grey skies. And I’m back at home, watching TV and seeing all of the famous people I was in the presence of just a week ago. “And you were there! And you…and you…”
My trip to Los Angeles was part of my adventures with Target Inner Circle. Target’s relationship with Essence magazine goes back quite a ways and is filled with support and mutual admiration. I went to L.A to learn more about some of Target’s incredible beauty brands, and to attend some truly incredible and inspiring events. Come with me, inside my latest Target Inner Circle experience!
The glitz and glamour began at an exclusive Target and Essence Magazine private influencer dinner, held at Spago in Beverly Hills. I’ve always been a junkie for Hollywood news, and it was such an honor and a delight to even GO to Spago. Wolfgang Puck’s cuisine and ambiance did not disappoint. The event was held in an absolutely stunning, huge back room. LOOK.
I mean. Just breathtaking. And some truly fabulous attendees were there. I brought along my two L.A homegirls, Felicia Leatherwood and Kim Coles. I love this photo of us!
The room was full of people I admire tremendously, including Target Style Expert, Tai Beauchamp and President of Community Relations, Laysha Ward, beautiful actress and total sweetheart Anika Noni Rose, fashion guru Mikki Taylor and Bethann Hardison, and celebrities like Tia and Tamera Mowry and Holly Robinson Peete. It was a carefully curated, very special experience and I was so honored to be there.
OK I was super excited when Anika said she remembered me from last year! She’s awesome. Follow her @AnikaNoniRose.
The amazing hosts of the glamorous evening – Target’s President of Community Relations, Laysha Ward, Senior Group Manager Greg Cunningham, and Style Expert, my friend @Taibeau AKA Tai Beauchamp!
All the guests got a truly amazing gift, courtesy of Target – we were gifted the beautiful, limited edition, no longer available Stephen Burrows Pazette Barbie doll. She is as fierce and as gorgeous as the models at Versailles in 1973. This is Target’s Senior Group Manager Greg Cunningham and the legendary Bethann Hardison, presenting us with the doll.
Oh and I wanted to FALL OUT when Bethann said she remembered my name and my blog from the early days of launching Vogue Black for Italian Vogue! What an experience.
The very next day I woke up early to get beautified by my FAVE Los Angeles makeup artist, Nicole Evans. She’s so incredible. Look out for more of her expertise on here soon!
I wore a fabulous emerald skirt by Sofistafunk with a teeshirt from Target! Shoes were from the Prabal Gurung collection. I jazzed the whole thing up with this incredible necklace that I got as a gift last year. And I carried a fabulous oversized clutch by African designer Aya Morrison. I got SO many compliments on my skirt and my clutch!
That is me and Felicia with actress Shanola Hampton, one of the stars of Showtime’s Shameless. She’s so adorable and approachable!
That’s me, Felicia and Miss Jill Scott – Felicia did her hair for the event! Gorgeous as EVER!
Last year at the Essence BWIH event, I was so caught up in the ambiance that the speeches didn’t penetrate. The whole time I kept thinking to myself, how did I wind up here? This year was my second time around in this incredible ambiance, and I felt more at ease. I was able to truly be present and absorb the messages we were being given. So the dessert I got seemed especially appropriate.
I truly was. And because I was present and calm in my spirit, I was able to learn so much from the experience this time around.
Gabrielle Union made such a strong impression at this year’s event – she received the Fierce and Fearless award and her speech was definitely that. Gabrielle spoke so eloquently about things every woman goes through, and things she went through to become who she is today. She spoke about being jealous of her fellow actresses and reveling in negativity and gossip….and then learning to do and be better. I was so touched and inspired by her. She really brought the room to an emotional brink and back.
Quvenzhané Wallis is so adorable and so self-possessed. She has a courage and grace beyond her years and I was so impressed by her speech!
Alfre Woodard blew the room away with her speech – I had no idea she could be so funny, bawdy, REAL. It’s so great to see behind the veil and realize one of your favorite actresses is also an incredible person.
And OPRAH’s speech was EVERYTHING. She was presented with her award by the graduating class of her Leadership Academy in South Africa – those girls are all poised, eloquent and gorgeous and they are so grateful to “Mom Oprah” for changing their lives. And now they’re about to begin college in America! Oprah spoke about the things we all share in common regardless of race or income level. We all have our insecurities and doubts. We all want to be seen and to know we did well. We all want to make an impact and a difference. We all want to be respected.
There’s a reason she’s Queen Mother OPRAH, y’all. I left this event so beyond inspired. I was too scared to actually try to meet Oprah but Target’s Laysha Ward did!
I can only imagine what that hug felt like. Glorayyyyy!
I met a whole BUNCH of amazing celebrities and I will make a Facebook folder so you can see all of them. But in summary, Retta of Parks and Rec is SUPER cool in person. Iyanla Vanzant is just as approachable and real as you might have hoped. Issa Rae is AWESOMENESS personified. And Loretta Devine is so sweet!
Thank you Target and Target Inner Circle for an absolutely unforgettable experience. And stay tuned for more on the beauty discoveries I made in LA while on this incredible trip!
For MORE on last week’s Essence Black Women in Hollywood experience, visit the blogs of my friends who were also there!
SUCH an amazing experience. Hope to be there again next year!!